Friday Face Off : The House in the Pines by Ana Reyes


Today is the second week of a new Friday Face Off  (a meme originally created by Books by Proxy) – similar in many ways to what came before but different going forward.  From 2023 I will no longer be posting prompts or themes to guide cover choices.  Instead, having noticed that many of my most recent reads have had more than one cover,  I thought instead it would be a change to highlight something that I’m keen to shine the focus on. So, if you have a book that has alternative covers, highlight them and choose your favourite.  If you’re taking part it would be great if you leave a link so I can take a look at what you’ve chosen.

My book this week is a very recent read that I enjoyed although it didn’t quite work out as well as I’d expected.  That being said I would recommend it, it was intriguing but had slight pacing issues in the middle.  The House in the Pines by Ana Reyes.

Here are the covers:

My favourite this week is :


Which cover is your favourite?

Join me next week in highlighting one of your reads with different covers.


The House in the Pines by Ana Reyes

My Five Word TL:DR Review : Liked but didn’t love it


I will start this review with the positives.  I certainly think this is an impressive and fairly unique debut, Ana Reyes succeeds in creating a great atmosphere and I enjoyed her style and would be keen to pick up any books she writes in the future.  I also enjoy a story told in a dual perspective and added to that a slightly unreliable narrator and you have my attention.  But, I felt like the pacing was off a little – for me at least anyways.  I reached a stage where I was becoming a bit annoyed, at this point, instead of enjoying the suspense I found myself becoming frustrated.  This could of course be my reading mood at the time but I just felt too much ‘drag’.

Anyway, a little about the plot.

As the story begins we meet Maya, in a loving relationship and living in Boston.  However, look a little closer and it turns out that Maya is keeping secrets.  She has become addicted to painkillers to try to keep at bay the mysterious death of her best friend and is really struggling with withdrawal because her supply has dried up.  On top of this, after witnessing a strange YouTube video in which a young woman dies unexpectedly her memories from that time begin to creep back in unwanted – the reason being, the unknown man in the video, who was talking to the woman just before she keeled over, is Frank, Maya’s love interest when her own best friend died in similar circumstances.  Maya decides to return to her home to finally search for answers.

There is so much here that is done very well.  I got a great feel for Maya and her best friend Aubrey.  They have a close friendship until Maya’s interest in Frank begins to drive a wedge between the two, ultimately leading to jealousy.  The relationship between Maya and Frank is also really well done.  Frank seems to be too good to be true.  He’s elusive and mysterious, giving very little away about himself whilst at the same time manipulating Maya who seems to experience disturbing memory lapses during his presence, which she generally puts down to time flying when she is in his company.  He’s an unusual character, his charm barely masking a general feeling of something more sinister lurking beneath the surface.  You have an overall ‘bad’ feeling about him.

The story jumps back and forth to Maya’s highschool days and the present time (approx 7 years later) when she’s trying to kick addiction, hold down a job, keep her relationship steady and discover the missing elements of that mysterious summer from her past.  On the whole I enjoy a split timeline and that was the case here.  Between the past and present we jump back to the strange encounter with Frank and the author begins to lay the trail of crumbs that something is not quite right.  At the same time we jump forward to the present where Maya struggles with her withdrawal and begins slowly to recall events from the past.

I mentioned the atmosphere.  On the face of it this is a regular story where something just feels off – mainly anything in relation to Frank – but steadily Reyes builds up the tension.  I can’t deny I was fascinated to read the final scene with Aubrey and found the jaunts to the house in the woods equally compelling and would have liked more.

Okay, the only thing that really held me back here was the pacing.  I definitely felt myself flagging by the middle.  Of course I was desperate to know what was really going on so I was turning the pages like a maniac but, put simply, for me the eventual reveal was too drawn out and in fact, considering how quickly the ending then rushed in it felt a little unbalanced.  I must also mention that the unreliable narrator feels as though it is slightly overused (although I usually like it)- or perhaps I’ve simply read to many similar books recently.

Regardless of my slight reservations I do think this was a good read and the conclusion felt unique to me.  I enjoyed the writing and would love to see what this author comes up with next.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating is 3 of 5 stars

Can’t Wait Wednesday : The House in the Pines by Ana Reyes


“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking the Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to. 

This week my book is: The House in the Pines by Ana Reyes.


A captivating psychological suspense debut about a young woman still haunted by her childhood best friend’s death who learns of an eerily similar incident and must find her way back to a cabin in the New England woods, armed with only hazy memories, to finally uncover the truth that has eluded her.

Maya was a high school senior when her best friend, Aubrey, mysteriously dropped dead in front of the enigmatic man named Frank whom they’d been hanging around with all summer. Seven years later, Maya is just managing to move on; she lives in Boston with a loving boyfriend and is kicking the secret Klonopin habit that’s allowed her to cope with what happened all those years ago.

But her past comes to haunt her when she discovers a recent YouTube video in which a young woman suddenly keels over in a diner while sitting across from none other than Frank. Plunged back into the trauma that has defined her life, Maya heads to her small Berkshires hometown to figure out the truth.

With guidance from a half-written book by the father in Guatemala she never knew, Maya’s quest for answers forces her to relive that fateful summer—the influence Frank once had on her, and the jealousy that nearly destroyed her friendship with Aubrey—finally leading her to Frank’s cabin in the woods.

The House in the Pines is an utterly unique and surprising thriller about the subtlety of memory and manipulation, confronting the past and returning home, and the powerful and lasting bonds of family and friendship.

Expected publication : January 2023